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AMM Aluminum Summit preview

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More than 200 international aluminum industry executives are expected to gather at AMM’s third annual Aluminum Summit in New York, where they can gain insights into the industry and take advantage of networking and business opportunities.

The June 20-21 event at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel offers a chance to get both a North American and a global perspective on the industry. (To learn more or register, visit amm.com.)

The summit comes at a challenging time for many. Aluminum prices are diverging, with the London Metal Exchange price, stymied by economic pressures, heading in one direction, while the premium price, propelled by the tons of material trapped in warehouses, goes in the opposite direction. The split has divided the industry into winners and losers, where once there were just winners.

And while demand seems to be a shining light for the industry, especially in the automotive sector, primary and secondary producers likely will see their profits erode as production costs continue to rise.

The Aluminum Summit offers industry leaders the opportunity to come together and address these concerns. Executives and analysts from every step along the supply chain will consider strategies for easing the pressures, dealing with various price mechanisms, managing costs and identifying opportunities.

Scheduled key conference topics include:

Economic and pricing outlook: Examining the financial health of the industry and understanding how trends in LME and premium pricing affect business.

Production challenges and developments: Looking at how to squeeze the best out of primary production, considering where the changing upstream priorities are going, discovering what challenges downstream producers face and discussing the latest technological innovations in smelter automation and energy reduction.

Tackling the pressures in secondary aluminum: Investigating whether the outlook is getting better on the secondary side and how developments in scrap processing and collection can improve efficiency.

The industry’s global reach: Analyzing whether China’s thirst for aluminum will prove to be an opportunity for U.S. companies and looking at developments in other regions of the world.

End-user outlook and discussion forums: Analyzing the worries and priorities of both buyers and sellers of aluminum products within the automotive, aerospace, packaging and construction sectors.

Last year’s Aluminum Summit provided some interesting takes on where 2012 and early 2013 were heading. Industry leaders predicted last June that slowdowns in Europe and China wouldn’t significantly damage the U.S. aluminum sector in 2012, which would remain relatively robust in terms of both physical demand and regional premiums despite sometimes-weak LME prices.

“We touch a lot of the very basic markets in the United States, and ... our experience supports the belief that there is strong demand in the U.S.,” Layle K. “Kip” Smith, president and chief executive officer of Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp., said in a 2012 roundtable discussion.

“My optimism is founded first on the strength of our demand,” Smith said, citing a pickup in the Franklin, Tenn.-based aluminum producer’s 2012 first-quarter results amid rebounding domestic demand. “Typically, we have a seasonal uptick in demand. If anything, we saw the seasonal uptick start sooner in our key market segments (in the United States).”

The United States also was a strong spot for Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan Inc., said Jean Simon, president of primary metals. “The U.S. is quite resilient. ... If you look at the last six months, the growth in the economy is much better than anybody might have expected,” he said. “There are some signals (the growth) might slow down a bit, but we’re still confident in the U.S. economy. Growth will continue, but maybe at a slower pace. ... What we have seen is quite positive. Demand is quite strong, even if the price is not where we’d like it to be.”

Smith agreed. “I’m more optimistic about demand in the U.S. than price,” he said. “What we have seen with the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and also with the slowdown in China, this has (encouraged) the global investment community to go less into the risky assets.”

Weak physical demand in Europe and the “soft landing” of the Chinese economy didn’t help global sentiment, either, Smith said.

Nonetheless, Rio Tinto Alcan remained slightly upbeat in the mid-term, even on a worldwide scale, Simon said. “Globally, if we look at the next six to 12 months, we are confident but cautious.”

Oliver Bell, executive vice president of rolled products at Oslo, Norway-based Norsk Hydro ASA, agreed, noting that while aluminum demand had slowed in Europe, real buying was still taking place. “I believe the customer has worked down their inventory to a level which is sustainable. So every order that’s coming is really fulfilling demand. In general, we have all reasons to be positive.”

Whether those viewpoints still hold or have changed significantly over the past 12 months will be a topic for discussion at the 2013 Aluminum Summit.

Key scheduled speakers at this year’s Aluminum Summit include:

>> Matt Aboud, president, Hydro Aluminum Metals USA.

>> Walid al Attar, executive vice president, marketing and sales, Dubai Aluminium Ltd. (Dubal), Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

>> Daniel Brebner, head of metals research, Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt, Germany.

>> Jeff Carpenter, senior manager, raw material procurement, supplier management, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Seattle.

>> Megan Daum, vice president of sustainability, Can Manufacturers Institute, Washington.

>> Jeffrey Henderson, director of marketing and business development, Sapa Extrusions North America, Chicago.

>> Tom Horter, president, Alexin LLC, Bluffton, Ind.

>> Yakov Itskov, deputy chief executive officer, director of procurement and logistics, United Co. Rusal, Moscow.

>> Dag Johnsen, director, systems engineering, United Airlines Inc., Chicago.

>> Ted Lehmann, vice president of procurement for the Americas, Aleris International Inc., Cleveland.

>> Leland Lorentzen, chief executive officer, Golden Aluminum Inc., Fort Lupton, Colo.

>> Philip Martens, president and chief executive officer, Novelis Inc., Atlanta.

>> Kevin Moore, president, All Raw Materials Consulting LLC, East Lansing, Mich.

>> Tim Murray, chief executive officer, Aluminium Bahrain BSC (Alba), Askar, Bahrain.

>> Laurent Musy, president, specialty sheet, Constellium, Paris.

>> James Peterson, vice president, marketing and corporate affairs, Ball Corp., Broomfield, Colo.

>> Simon Pickup, director of business operations, Airbus Americas, Herndon, Va.

>> William Portnoy, president, Charleston Aluminum LLC, Gaston, S.C.

>> Chester Roush, chief commercial officer, JW Aluminum Co., Mount Holly, S.C.

>> Tom Schabel, chief executive officer, Alexandria Industries, Alexandria, Minn.

>> Torbjšrn Sternsjš, chief executive officer, Sapa Chalco Aluminium Products (Chongqing) Co. Ltd., Chongqing, China.

>> Adrian Tautscher, Realcar project leader materials engineering, engineering technical services, Jaguar Land Rover.

>> Peter Zimm, principal, ICF International Inc., Fairfax, Va.


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